In the US, each state is responsible for regulating business conducted within its boundaries. The ‘Commerce Clause’ of the US Constitution states that Congress has the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” All countries have their own laws which regulate how their citizens engage in business. Regardless of where you reside, it’s your responsibility to know and abide by the laws of your locality. I’d like to present three questions that you need to have answered as you set up your business. My examples are based on how things work in the US state of Florida, where I reside. The specifics will vary from state to state.
What is the procedure for registering my business name? Sole proprietorships in Florida are supposed to file a fictitious name registration with the Division of Corporations if you are conducting business under a name other than your own name. The process involves advertising your ‘doing business as’ or DBA name in a local newspaper prior to submitting a registration application to the state. State registrations are renewable every five years.
Do I need a business license? Licensing requirements are usually handled at the county and/or municipality levels. My county doesn’t require a license for my type of business although other counties in the state may.
Am I required to collect sales tax? There’s a popular misconception among sellers that online sales are exempt from being taxed. In Florida and most other states, online retail sales made within the state are supposed to be taxed. Registration to collect and submit sales tax in Florida is handled through the Department of Revenue. When registering for craft shows in Florida, applications will remind you that you are responsible for collecting sales tax. It’s advisable to have a copy of your sales tax certificate with you at shows.
A good place to find answers to these and other questions about business requirements for your state is a local office of the Small Business Administration (SBA). The purpose of the SBA is to provide small businesses with information, workshops and assistance. Most SBA services are provided at no charge.
Best wishes for much success on Zibbet!
Vicki is committed to assisting her fellow Zibbeters improve their shops for successful online selling. She is the owner of five Zibbet shops: LOC Design Studio, Denim and Pearls, A Stitch and a Prayer, Black Creek Crossing and Think Like a Fish. You can follow Vicki on Twitter and through her LOC Design Studio blog.